Wednesday, July 16, 2008

They work for you (They should but very few actually do)

The TheyWorkForYou website has published an interesting question by Eric Pickles about Local Government Ombudsmen. After the next general election he could well be the person in charge of the department that recommends Local Government Ombudsman appointments.

The answer from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government is the usual combination of spin and ignorance. Particularly when he states 'It is the policy of the Ombudsman to operate as openly as possible without putting at risk their investigations and the service they provide for the public'.

It may well be their published policy but that doesn't mean they actually operate as openly as possible.

In addition, just what 'service' do they proved for the public? They bury most of the complaints submitted to them and on the very rare occasion that they find in favour of a complainant and publish a report (less than 1% of submitted complaints) local authorities can, and often do, ignore them.

Ask Mr & Mrs Wright (Trafford) and the other 1% in which the Local Government Ombudsman finds in their favour in any given year and ask them if they got the 'service' they expected. I am still waiting for the service I expected when I submitted my initial complaint in 1997. Just how long does the government expect a complainant to wait for service? 12 years for a Local Government Ombudsman to persuade a local authority to fulfil a promise made to them doesn't feel much like service to me. It's feels more like a sentence.

And therein lies the problem, people suffer at the hands of local authorities and then suffer again at the hands of the Local Government Ombudsman. Whilst on the other hand, local authorities (the perpetrators) save money because of their initial maladministration and then save again when they refuse to follow the ombudsman's recommendations or the Ombudsman lets them of the hook for a paltry settlement.

And that folks is what the Government call Administrative Justice in England.

My full response is on the TheyWorkForYou website.

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